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Q. Is high-fructose corn syrup bad for you?

By Joyce Hendley, September/October 2007

Is high-fructose corn syrup bad for you?

A. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a manmade sweetener that’s found in a wide range of processed foods, from ketchup and cereals to crackers and salad dressings. It also sweetens just about all of the (regular) soda Americans drink. HFCS used in foods is between 50 to 55 percent fructose—so chemically, it’s virtually identical to table sugar (sucrose), which is 50 percent fructose. Metabolic studies suggest our bodies break down and use HFCS and sucrose the same way.

Yet, after HFCS began to be widely introduced into the food supply 30-odd years ago, obesity rates skyrocketed. And because the sweetener is so ubiquitous, many blame HFCS for playing a major role in our national obesity epidemic. As a result, some shoppers equate HFCS with “toxic waste” when they see it on a food label. But when it comes right down to it, a sugar is a sugar is a sugar. A can of soda contains around nine teaspoons of sugar in the form of HFCS—but, from a biochemical standpoint, drinking that soda is no worse for you than sipping home-brewed iced tea that you’ve doctored with nine teaspoons of table sugar or an equivalent amount of honey.

Even Barry Popkin, Ph.D., a nutrition professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who previously suggested, in an influential 2004 paper, a possible HFCS-obesity link, stresses that the real obesity problem doesn’t lie just with HFCS. Rather, it’s the fact that sugars from all sources have become so prevalent in our food supply, especially in our beverages. He scoffs at the “natural” sweeteners sometimes added to upscale processed foods like organic crackers and salad dressings. “They all have the same caloric effects as sugar,” he explains. “I don’t care whether something contains concentrated fruit juice, brown sugar, honey or HFCS. The only better sweetener option is ‘none of the above.’”

At EatingWell, it’s our philosophy to keep any sweeteners we use in our recipes to a minimum—and likewise, to limit processed foods with added sugars of any type, including HFCS. We recommend you do the same.

Did you know?

The corn syrup found on supermarket shelves is only a distant cousin to the high-fructose corn syrup used commercially. Both start by processing corn starch with enzymes and/or acids, but the HFCS process is much more complex and results in a different chemical structure.

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COMMENTS POSTEDsort icon

Read the following:

A sweet problem: Princeton researchers find that high-fructose corn syrup prompts considerably more weight gain
Posted March 22, 2010; 10:00 a.m.
by Hilary Parker

Anonymous

01/08/2015 - 1:00pm

My daughter stopped using high fructose corn syrup as well some others items years ago becuause she felt they caused heralot of problems (weight and depression, etc). She ihas kept her weight down and she does not take medication for depression anymore. Food allergies are a problem for many perople.
You need to pay attention to what you put in your body. The food companies don;t care.

Anonymous

12/31/2014 - 4:41pm

You know most of foods now come many other countries, and most countries do not care about America.
The bottom line is they want our money. It is time for our companies to return to America, the United States. Start producing healthly foods, as well as other necessities we may need to live a productive life.
I work in the food industry and here complaints constantly about the ingredients that are in our foods.And why can't foods be made more healthy. If one food is low sodium then they have too much sugar. We
all need to band together and boycott these companies.

_Anonymous

Anonymous

12/31/2014 - 4:31pm

I believe the HFCS can cause GOUT! I have to watch sugar intake, but I especially must watch HFCS or an attack is sure to follow! anonymous

Anonymous

12/26/2014 - 6:02pm

How about the effects HFCS may have on people suffering from the gout? I've read there is an obscene amount of purines in HFCS that break down into uric acid, which promotes gout attacks? Any truth to this?

Anonymous

10/02/2014 - 11:26pm

Our brain does NOT send a message to say stop eating when we eat either HFCS, sugar or carbohydrates, so HFCS and sugar/honey etc are all the same!

Anonymous

09/17/2014 - 7:37am

Has anyone done a study on allergic reactions to HFCS such as an itchy rash?

Dan

Anonymous

07/04/2014 - 5:19pm

Hook, line and sinker....read the facts (from the Fructose board, of course). My guess is U.S. mfg. went to HFCS to beat the government interference in the protection of sugar...if we could buy sugar without a tariff, Hershey would probably still be in the U.S. instead of Mexico....just guessing.

Anonymous

07/01/2014 - 7:30pm

I have been a Pepsi drinker all my life, at a younger age my metabolism took care of alot of weight issues,as I got older not so much.and I started to gain weight.when Pepsi introduced the sugar brand again a couple years back, with no difference in any diet or workout I started dropping weight.I'm not saying it is a answer to be healthy but, comparatively if you are a soda drinker and don't want to be a victim of extra weight find a sugar based soda, our switch and lose a little weight..

Anonymous

06/29/2014 - 7:49pm

You guys are all conspiracy theorists. Science says it doesn't matter if its organic or not.

Anonymous

06/04/2014 - 11:48pm

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